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Marion County sheriff addresses safety concerns at new jail, staffing shortage

Posted at 7:39 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 13:53:32-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Sheriff is working to ease the concerns and challenges at the new Adult Detention Center.

Sheriff Kerry Forestal said his office has moved more than 2,200 offenders to the new facility at the Community Justice Center. The old main jail on Alabama Street is no longer in use.

The pressing need right now for the sheriff is to fill more than 100 open deputy positions and about 50 civilian workers to handle the needs of the new complex.

The shortage has raised questions about workplace safety and the ability to provide services to the inmates.

The sheriff recently visited the new facility to talk with staffers and inmates to address some of the issues.

Forestal said he believes spending about $1 million on incentives will help with recruiting new deputies and keep existing staff on the job.

"We are hiring, and one of the things we wanted to do is incentivize people to take a second look if they hadn't before — and reward them for taking the chance to come to work for us now," Forestal said. "In order to get people to come to work here, we have to do more to incentivize them."

The sheriff's office is using a number of incentives:

  • Current employees who work three overtime shifts in 28 days can earn an extra $500
  • Deputies who stay with the office for another year will get an extra $2,500 next February
  • Referring someone who stays on the job can earn you $2,000
  • New hires are eligible for a $5,000 signing bonus
  • Extra annual pay for people with college degrees

To help with the staffing shortage the Indiana Department of Correction is offering assistance. No other agency is providing officers.

Forestal said the money is coming from the office's existing budget and he has set aside just under $1 million to support the efforts. This is on top of TV commercials and mailers seeking new workers.

To apply for the open positions and learn more, visit the sheriff's office website.

Forestal said while he realizes employees are at risk due to the nature of the job, he is comfortable with the current safety of the facility.

"Even fully staffed, even if we had more staff that we need, this still can be a dangerous location. We have 2,000 people that most society don't want out there right now. That's why they are here. So our people are at risk, but I think we are comfortable with the safety of what we have now and as we build it more."

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